Which Type of Yoga is Best For You?

By Michael Quesada July 03, 2018

Which Type of Yoga is Best For You?

A Guide to the Different Types of Yoga and their Benefits

Yoga is a tradition spanning thousands of years.  With that much time to develop, it is only natural that many different forms have evolved to fit different needs and circumstances.  It can be daunting to determine which type of yoga is for you, but in this article we will give you a basic rundown on the most popular forms of yoga, so you can better decide which is for you.

What is Yoga?

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means to bind or yoke. This is commonly interpreted as a method of discipline or union.  A male practitioner of yoga is called a yogi while yogini is the term used for a female practitioner, though not widely used in the west.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collected the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra roughly 2,000 years ago.

The Sutra also described the eight limbs of yoga:

  1. Yama - means restraint 
  2. Niyamas - means observances
  3. Asana - mean postures.
  4. Pranayama - means controlled breathing.
  5. Pratyahara - means withdrawal of senses.
  6. Dharana - means collection and concentration of the mind.
  7. Dhyani - means meditation.
  8. Samadhi - means absorption. It is the state of consciousness induced by complete meditation.

What Type of Yoga is For You

What Does Om Mean?

It is a vibration or mantra that is chanted traditionally at the beginning and end of every yoga sessions.  They say it is the sound of the universe.  However, what does om really mean?

The ancient yogis knew that the universe is constantly moving.  Nothing is ever solid or still.  The ancient yogis acknowledged the sound of Om with everything that exists, creating a rhythmic vibration such as Om.

This chant allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe works and moves.  It takes us all for a trip on this universal phenomenon through our breath, our consciousness or awareness, and our physical energy.  This way, we begin to realize a huge life changing connection that is soothing and uplifting.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, yet it is often overlooked.  When we practice yoga, it does not only make changes to our physical self, but also to our mental health.  For example, it helps to reduce the body’s level of cortisol, release a great amount of tension from the large muscle groups, and so much more.

What Type of Yoga is For You

What are the benefits of Yoga?

Stress Relief

Yoga helps to regulate, diminish and manage stress and anxiety, thus reducing their harmful effects on your body.  Stress is one of the biggest killers and it often leads to metabolic sickness or diseases. Yoga helps you relax, and this relaxation lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, your blood pressure and heart rate.

Pain Relief

Yoga helps ease pain conditions from cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases, to arthritis and other chronic conditions.

Flexibility

Yoga helps to prevent the soreness of the muscles and promotes a faster recovery between training. What’s great about yoga is that it makes you more flexible so it helps increase your mobility.

Controlled Breathing

In yoga, you are taught the correct manner of breathing by making you aware of your breathing. It helps you known the patterns of your breathing and shows you how your emotions affect it. Controlling your breathing can help calm you down. Deep yogic breathing is also good for health and it serves great benefits for the heart, brain, digestion and immune system.

Detoxification

The physical activity involved in yoga helps your internal organs perform well and do their function of detoxifying your body.

Weight Management

Despite yoga being a spiritual practice, it can help you lose weight and maintain it long term. It helps you burn calories and make you lose weight by curtailing the production of the stress hormone that lets you put on weight.

What Type of Yoga is For You

The Types and Benefits of Yoga

When people hear about yoga, they think yoga is nothing but just some kind of physical fitness and nothing else.  But then again, there are many different types of yoga and each one has its own unique benefits.  In this part, let us look at the types of yoga and the benefits we can gain when we practice it.

Vinyasa Yoga

It is a type of yoga with choreographed flowing postures that are often fluid and designed to create a connection between breathing and movement.  It requires the practitioner to coordinate their movement with their conscious breathing as they switch from one posture to another.

 Benefits:

It improves flexibility, balance and strength, and increases the heart rate.  Because of this, the risk of injury is reduced.  It can also help to boost immunity levels and enhance the state of wellbeing.

Anusara Yoga

It  means ‘going with the flow’ or ‘flowing with grace’.  It is based on the philosophy of finding joy and bliss through our yoga practice and everyday life, aiming to help us soften our hearts and experience joy and bliss through our physical practice.

Benefits:

It is good for flexibility and improving overall alignment throughout the body, and building strength, toning muscles, improving.  Anusara yoga combines physical enhancement with spiritual upliftment, and aims to even out imbalances within the mind and body.

Hatha Yoga

 Hatha concentrates on maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.  Some asanas in this practice focus on building body balance and strength, while some are to improve movement and flexibility.  It also involves pranayama which regulates and controls breath.

Benefits

It improves flexibility, strength, and balance.  Hatha also helps eliminate negativity from the mind, increases self-awareness, lower stress levels and increases the body’s relaxation levels.

What Type of Yoga is For You

Bikram Yoga

It is created by Bikram Choudhury and it consists of two breathing lessons and 26 poses.  What differs Bikram from other types of yoga is that it is practiced in a heated room which are heated to about 40° C or 104° F.  This is why it’s also referred to as hot yoga.

Benefits

It consists of physical and psychological benefits including increased heart rate, strength, flexibility, balance, mobility, enhanced breathing technique, improved blood circulation, and sharpened focus.  Be warned though, take it easy your first time in a Bikram yoga session; it is not at all uncommon for people to black out due to the heat.

Kundalini Yoga

This is an ancient type of yoga, practiced by the Upanishad people of India since 500 BC.  This was introduced in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan to the Western world.  In the beginning, yoga was taught in private, but some time later, Bhajan brought it into the public and people began to welcome it.

Benefits

The word Kundalini means “coiled”.  It is a metaphor for a coiled snake at the base of a person’s spine.  It  aims to uncoil the snake trapping energy within your spine to release the power within. It also provides enhanced strength and fitness, enhances health, and also contributes to a higher state of peace and happiness.

Mantra Yoga

It is a type of yoga that involves the chanting of mantras, carefully focusing on repetition, sound and duration in order to engage the mind and body. The use of mantras is to awaken the self.

Benefits

Mantra chanting is a great way to create a sense of moment awareness and to harness the power of breath.  It aims to create positive vibration within the body and mind, to help bring the person closer to their inner divine.

Ashtanga Yoga

It is popularized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1948 and is considered to be the modern day form of classical yoga.  Ashtanga means 8 limbs, and represents the practices that make up yoga as a whole.  ‘Asana’ is one of the 8 limbs as mentioned before, and it is essential for all to be practiced in the yoga journey.  It is worth noting that it is a structured practice where you can only progress to the next postures when you have mastered the previous one.

Benefits

The eight limbs work together in order to improve breath control, posture, to enhance meditation, concentration, self-purification, better control of the senses, increase strength and stability, enhanced focus, and heighten self-awareness and spirituality.

Jnana Yoga

It is considered as one of the more difficult yoga practices.  It is a meditative practice where it uses the mind to self-reflect.  The method of this practice is by meditation and you can practice with a guru or in private.

Benefits

It develops inner peace, increase wisdom, improve self-awareness, and increase knowledge of oneself.

What Type of Yoga is For You

Which Yoga for You?

At the end of the day, no form is better than another, it all depends on what you are trying to get out of your yoga practice.  The best approach would be to simply take a few classes in different styles, and see what resonates with you. 

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Which Form Of Yoga Is Right For You?

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Michael Quesada

Founder of this website; currently living vicariously through himself.


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